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Images of America: Monticello

Monticello lies thirty minutes from both Decatur and Champaign-Urbana. But many people in and near Monticello are not aware of the interesting history of the small city sitting at the bottom of a bowl of prairie. Since its beginnings in 1822 with a handful of people, its population reached approximately 5,600 by 2013.

Throughout the decades, even as local companies closed down, farmland around Monticello continued to feed not just the community, but also the wallet.

A big draw of the city is State Street, nicknamed "Millionaires' Row", it is full of homes that once housed captains of local industry, along with their chauffeurs. The impressive courthouse is ringed with brick buildings from the late 1800s. The Allerton estate, a 32,000-square-foot Georgian mansion on 12,000 acres along the Sangamon River, was donated to the University of Illinois by owner Robert Allerton. Filled with sculptures from around the world, the estate has been designated by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism as one of the "Seven Wonders of Illinois."

Monticello is part of the Lincoln lore, as well. In 1858, on the outskirts of Monticello, Abraham Lincoln met Stephen A. Douglas and decided to get together to plan the debates that later won Lincoln the presidency.